Photo: Qin Lan/Weibo
Kindness was one of the reasons why Empress Fucha Rongyin’s character received popular support in Chinese hit the Story of Yanxi Palace. One instance was when the empress taught her servant, the protagonist Wei Yingluo, to read and write.
The period drama, which was set during Emperor Qianlong’s reign in the 18th century, has since garnered over 15 billion streams and is the most Googled television show worldwide in 2018.
The actress was in Singapore for Starhub’s inaugural Night of Stars event where she was commended as the Best Female Asian Star.
Qin Lan, 37, who played the beloved empress, also ranked kindness as the most important trait she looks out for in her prospective partner.
On her ideal type, she shared, “I don’t care so much about the looks, but I prefer a man taller than me because I am of average height. Beyond that, he should be humorous, have decent looks and share similar values and worldviews as me. Most importantly, he has to be kind.”
Reportedly single, Qin Lan has had a fair share of media speculation on the status of her relationship with co-star Lawrence Wong, a Malaysian-born and a former Channel 8 actor, who played imperial guard Hai Lan Cha. Further fuelling this speculation, Lawrence had once stated in an interview that Qin Lan is his idea of a perfect woman.
Qin Lan quelled these rumours and stated that Lawrence is like a brother to her. “I think he can’t say that I am not [his perfect woman] right?” she shared while laughing.
“I don’t think I am that perfect and I admit that I have shortcomings too. Maybe Lawrence appreciates my kindness very much, and he is very kind too. Lawrence is a simple and kind-hearted person, and his character is something my team and I really like.”
Besides their close off-screen friendship, Qin Lan is also his boss as she is one of many that manage the agency Lawrence is signed to in China.
The two first met when the actress came to Singapore to shoot an advertising campaign as the Chinese ambassador for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). Lawrence was introduced to Qin Lan and her team. They quickly hit it off and was asked if he wanted to pursue a career in China. Seeing an opportunity for new challenges, Lawrence took their offer.
We interviewed the actress while she was here and gleaned a behind the scene look at the filming of Story of Yanxi Palace. Plus, she also shared some of her top beauty habits in this Q&A session.
Story of Yanxi Palace has a lot of strong female characters. What lessons can the modern women can learn from the show?
“I think people can learn various lessons from Fucha Rongyin. The first is to find strength and independence from within. Secondly, competing and fighting will not help you find love. Love is about giving and communication. I feel that when it comes to love and relationships, we shouldn’t be afraid to give more because the returns will be worth it.“
The filming of Story of Yanxi Palace took place in summer over four months, how was the experience like?
“You don’t know how terrible conditions were, it was as bad as when I filmed in Singapore. When I filmed in Singapore, I really wanted to shoot indoors cause it was so hot and I kept perspiring but I couldn’t because I (as the Chinese ambassador for the STB) had to introduce Singapore’s sights and scenes.
Story of Yanxi Palace was filmed in Hengdian and it was comparable to Singapore’s weather. We wore thick clothes and had to change into winter wear when we filmed winter scenes, which included charcoal heaters and fake snow. Halfway through filming, we had to take the costumes off to cool off.”
Writer’s note: Jiang Zixin, who played female servant Mingyu, shared in an interview that the filming got so hot that she suffered from a heatstroke and was had to be sent to a hospital.
How did you maintain your skin health during such weather conditions then?
“During lunch breaks, I would eat less or faster so that my makeup artist had time to redo my makeup. It was really tiring. Every night after filming I would do face and eye masks to replenish moisture.
I also liked to organise get-togethers after filming with the cast and crew to just relax, chit-chat and eat some good food. I would buy a lot of face masks so that anyone who came would get a face mask from me. We lose a lot of moisture in the day so we have to be conscientious to replenish it at night. Even the male actors would put on eye masks while we chat and play games.”
Favourite sight in Singapore?
“I would say Gardens by the Bay, because I was filming some night scenes at the location and it was so pretty. I wish I had more time to enjoy myself more when I was here previously.”
Favourite dish in Singapore?
“Bak kut teh (bone tea) is my favourite. Yesterday I tried Peranakan food and it was so good that I finished all my rice and completely forgot that I had this gala event to attend today.” *laughs*
After signing Lawrence, do you have plans to sign new artistes?
“I would like to. Hopefully I can scout new talents on this trip to Singapore. There is a lot of talent waiting to be discovered and they need to be kind. Acting can be learnt but character cannot.“
What are your future plans?
“I will be on this drama coming next year called The People’s Property. In the show, I play a strong female figure who dominates over her husband, and it is a role very different from Fucha Rongyin. I am scared that people will be shocked by how different the character is.”
Writer’s note: South China Morning Post recently reported that Qin Lan voiced a character in the Chinese dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro. The movie sold over US$400,000 since its release earlier this month.